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a passionate repentance

And the answer from His Eminence (again, reposted with permission)

And the answer from His Eminence (again, reposted with permission)

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may God stand
Dear Nicole,

My answers are below.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chrisiant@aol.com [mailto:Chrisiant@aol.com]
Sent: Monday, December 05, 2005 11:38 PM
To: metropolitan@igoarch.org
Subject: Re: Question about John 9:1-5

Your Eminence,

Thank you for your letter about this verse. Your answer has been like a kind touch for an aching heart. I am glad that I was able to help you in some way. It is not me though, but the Holy Spirit who is touching your heart. Sometimes we just need someone to wipe away the cobwebs and help open the window so that the Divine Energies of God can flow into us.

There are so many things that I want to say, but I do not want to take up time that you need for your flock, sir. I have so *many* questions to ask, and I need to ask them of my priest (when I meet him! I have only talked briefly over the phone.) So I will ask of you two questions, and hope that they are not lengthy for you to answer. You can ask me as many questions as you like. I always will take the time to answer, as quickly as I can given my schedule. As I said earlier, I enjoy helping others explore and experience our Orthodox Faith. It brings me great joy, especially when I hear back from people that they have been received into the Church. I love hearing stories of their baptism/Chrismation experiences, especially when they occur at Pascha or Epiphany.

I read in the Bible it says "Pray without ceasing." And I believe that I need to pray. But I don't know how to pray. Right now my work schedule is very tight, but I am trying to arrange to go to Liturgy. Wednesday Evening is when Holy Trinity holds it's classes for inquirers. I will have to wait until after the holidays to be able to ask for those days off.

So..when do I pray? And how? I don't where to start. Ah…this is a good question! Well, praying is something you have to learn to do but it’s actually quite easy. First of all, there are three types of prayer: 1) formal prayer, 2) spontaneous prayer, and 3) corporate/public prayer.

Formal prayers are the prayers that you find in a prayer book and that you say as part of your prayer rule. You say these prayers in the morning when you get up (Morning Prayers), at meals, and before you go to bed (Evening Prayers). Other formal prayers are the prayers you say before and after receiving Holy Communion, there are prayers of Intercession and Supplication, etc. Normally, you set aside a certain time of the day or week to say these prayers.

Spontaneous Prayer is just what it means. Simply stated, you just have a private conversation with God. You talk to Him. Tell Him how much you love him. How grateful you are for all the blessing He has given you in your life. You can be as specific as you want. Say “thank you” for the new day, for the blessing of a job, for your family and friends, etc. Tell Him what’s going on in your life and if you are having any problems and difficulties, tell Him about them and ask Him for his help. Don’t ask Him for things like winning the lottery or stuff like that. Ask Him for the strength to do a difficult task, or to study harder, or the wisdom to make good judgments. These are all things that are good for you spiritually and physically and develop you overall to live a life of service to Him.

Corporate/public prayer is joining with the community of believers in the Divine Services of the Church, principally the Divine Liturgy, which is the most perfect form of prayer.

So where do you start? Well, start with spontaneous prayer. You can do this just about anywhere, including work and school. When you come home, take a walk and just spend some quiet time talking with God. It’s not a difficult thing to do. As in all things, start off slow and build up to a more disciplined practice. You can also start a rule of formal prayer. Get up a little earlier in the morning and say morning prayers before you do anything. Before you go to bed at night, say the evening prayers. You can these prayers in any Orthodox prayer book. I would recommend the Prayer Book from Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY. There are others, but I like the way the Jordanville book is put together. If you would like a copy, I can send you one as a gift. Saying Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer is a good way to start out a formal rule of prayer in your daily life. Again, start off slow and build up and always consult with your spiritual father. He will be able to guide you along the way. Also, make sure that the priest you select is a parish priest. Too many of our inquirers and catechumens make the mistake of seeking out a monastic spiritual father. I don’t encourage this. A parish priest is better equipped to advise you on practical matters. He should also be your confessor. Please do not misunderstand, I am not anti-monastic. Monastics have their place in the life of the Church but they have a different take on life which is not always helpful to someone who lives in the world. While they once lived in the world, their life in the monastery is different and it is meant to be so. Going to monasteries is a very spiritually rewarding experience, but it should not become the focus of your spiritual development. Monastics pray unceasingly before God for all of us. That is their role, but it is not the kind of prayer someone like you should undertake. It’s a different life and a different discipline.

So…pray without ceasing. Very simply put, it means pray as often as you can. It means maintaining a constant open line of communication with God. As Orthodox Christians, we don’t do it only once in a while. We do it all the time.

Oh, by the way…in developing your prayer rule, it’s important to include in that the corporate/public aspect of prayer. Try to attend Divine Services as often as you can. And, if you can’t make it on a regular basis because of work, that’s ok. It’s when we don’t go to church when we have an opportunity to go that becomes problematic. You need to be with the community of faith as much as possible. It’s where our faith is nurtured, matures and grows.

Secondly..I am keeping my questions and answers so I can refer to them. I will not show them to anyone if you wish. They are your words, and I would not share them without your permission. Father John McCuen wrote in response to my question about Almsgiving, and with his permission I have put the letter in my online journal. I have gotten a LOT of responses from it. May I put the reply you sent me in my journal also? I will send you a link to the journal, so that you can see Father McCuen's words, and some of the comments. Yes, you have my blessing and permission to post my responses.

Thank you, Your Eminence. There is so much more to this journey than I ever dreamed there could be. You haven’t seen anything yet Nicole. The journey will be one of the most exciting, and sometimes the most difficult one, you will ever make. But on the day that you stand in the midst of whatever congregation you will join and receive baptism and/or Chrismation and Holy Communion for the first time, the joy that you will experience will be indescribable and your life will be changed forever.

I ask you very humbly, to remember me in your prayers. May I pray for you too (as I can, right now, until I know the best way)? I need all the prayers I can get! J

Kissing your hands with great gratitude.

Nicole Newton
  • *another very tender robed embrace*
  • provides access

    Great article, lots of smart tips. I am going to show my buddies and ask them what they think.
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